Today will be my last "official" day in the studio until 2009. That's not to say that I won't be working in some capacity over the Christmas vacation period.
I have a lot of personal work planned... this weekend I even dusted of the Hasselblad and burned a few rolls of Tri-X... the first film I've shot in quite a while. A request for reproduction 4x5 transparencies from a reknown island artist required that I ship in fresh E-6 chemistry from the mainland along with a few boxes of Kodak Ektachrome 100 Plus to get the job done. A week ago, I ventured back into the darkroom to clean up a bit after a couple of years of minimal use, fired up the old E-6 Processor and ran it thru a couple of test cycles for the first time in three years.The processor worked flawlessly.
It would be very nice to be able to just shoot the film and drop it off at the local pro-lab instead of having to do it all myself. Most unfortunately, however, art reprography requires very accurate color rendering. The only remaining E-6 lab here is still using an old refurbished Refrema® Dip & Dunk processor requiring massive amounts of chemistry held in large dipping tanks. These chemicals are automatically replenished every X amount of sq. ft. of film processed. Needless to say, there just isn't enough film being processed locally these days to run the required amount of film on a daily basis to keep things balanced and accurate. Compounding the problem further is that this lab now only processes E-6 film one day each week, if at all. The last time I processed slide film, the color was so horribly shifted magenta that is was virtually unusable. My processor, on the other hand, uses very small amounts of fresh chemistry for each film batch and is incredibly consistent and accurate. The downside is that I no longer have a merchant account with Eastman Kodak® and the shipping alone of 10 liters of chemistry costs a whopping $250.00 where it used to only cost $10-$15.
It will be fun to break out the Sinar View camera once again, to load film holders, to work slow and methodically again as we did in the days before the release of adequate digital SLR's. It will be nice to smell the fixer again, to hand process black & white film, to spend some time making wet, silver prints again.
2008 all in all has been a pretty good year. Even though the work volume has slowed considerably over the course of the past few months (who's hasn't?), we will finish this year a little better than the last. What's in store for the next few months or year is anybody's guess. All I can say is that I am ready to begin a new marketing campaign with a new direct mail piece ready to go out as soon as the calendar page turns. In lieu of steady assignments, there's a wealth of stock, scenic hawaii and personal work never previously tackled to keep me busy for quite a while. To my photographer colleagues also experiencing the slowdown, it's time to do the same... work on your portfolio, refine you client database, discover & shoot more personal work and most of all... stay optimistic. While the downturn may be prolonged, it can't last forever and those of us that spend our time wisely will emerge stronger, better positioned and with a potentially viable new body of work unfettered by the usual constraints of the editorial & advertising markets.
The Obama family is ensconced in a nice, beach-front compound in Kailua for the holidays. Let us hope and pray that our president elect returns to Washington in January - refreshed, enlivened and inspired by his days basking on our sunny shores.
To the rest of you that stop by here... I wish you all the best and warmth of the season. As it is in all years, we have made some new friends & lost a couple of old friends that will be sorely missed. Don't forget to help your neighbors, share your abundance, your talent & your skills. We'll be back next year...